Things I Wish I Knew, Vol. 4: You DO know things and you CAN do things, even if you’re “just a 1L”

“Just a 1L.”

I heard that phrase thrown around a lot when I was researching law schools. You shouldn’t expect to have a lot of stuff to put on your resume because you’re “just a 1L.” You shouldn’t expect to get a “real” job this summer because you’re “just a 1L.” What you have to say and what you bring to the table aren’t as important because you’re “just a 1L.”

So I think we can agree that all those people were very clearly wrong.

Me becoming one with nature at the Desert Botanical Gardens.

Me becoming one with nature at the Desert Botanical Gardens

Greetings from the desert! I’m extremely pleased to be blogging from sunny Phoenix, Arizona – which reminds me a lot of Florida (just substitute cactuses for palm trees). The best part? BC is sponsoring this mini vacation/incredible opportunity to get some hands-on legal experience.

I had the privilege of being selected to go on one of BC’s many spring break service trips. Our Phoenix quintet is spending this week working with The Florence Project, a nonprofit that provides legal services to unaccompanied immigrant minors. Last summer, the influx of children leaving Central America to escape persecution and poverty alerted many (myself included) to the fact that child detention centers are all around the country, often in our own communities. These children, who often speak only Spanish or a dialect from their home country and may be too young to read or write, rely on organizations like The Florence Project to advocate on their behalf in the hopes of reunifying with family members within the U.S., or, at the very least, not being sent back to their home country.  In the uphill battle to find grounds for asylum or some other visa that will put these kids on the path to become legal permanent residents, organizations like The Florence Project have to conduct a lot of case research and statute interpretation, not to mention finding out more about the conditions that caused the kids to flee in their countries in the first place.

Our Spring Break group at the U.S. Immigration Court in Phoenix

Our Spring Break group at the U.S. Immigration Court in Phoenix

Real talk: I came into law school being absolutely terrible at research. Even now, every time I start on an assignment for Legal Reasoning, Research and Writing (aka, LRRW), I have to remind myself that Westlaw and LexisNexis have never been recorded causes of death.

But today, when I was assigned to research a statute and applicable cases that favored The Florence Project’s client, I actually knew how to do it. I know, right? No one was more shocked than I was.

And all my questions this week so far have been founded in the content we’ve already covered in our first year classes. What constitutional protections do these migrant children have? See constitutional law. What forms of relief are available to minor children who are victims of injury or crimes while in the U.S.? See torts and criminal law. Not to mention the confidentiality agreements we went over when our group began work with The Florence Project this week (contracts) and the courtroom procedure and documents we observed on our first day in immigration court (civil procedure).

1L year matters. It’s why it’s by all accounts it’s the toughest year. Doesn’t it just follow logically that the things you learn during 1L year matter too?

Prepping for this trip and working on my assignments with The Florence Project has shown me that a student at BC can and does contribute meaningfully to the global legal community, even if they’re “just a 1L.”

I’m what I like to call a 1.5L (first year, second semester). Check out my posts every week about things I wish I knew as an incoming 1L so you’ll actually know them when you get here. My inbox is always open so you can comment on here, or shoot me an email at ochogo@bc.edu. 

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